The Planning and Building Instruments of Architects in the Late Middle Ages

The Planning and Building Instruments of Architects in the Late Middle Ages

Abbate, Francesco

Second International Congress on Construction History (2006)


From the instruments used by architects in the Middle Ages to the necessary knowledge for building stability: Vitruvius’ firmitas: this is the proposed deductive method. The following deductions represent a sort of circumstantial investigation where practically no certain evidence exists, we shall nonetheless endeavour to demonstrate that they were all possible with the knowledge of the time: this is not to say, of course, that such were their methods, however something quite similar was certainly employed. The architects of the time have hardly left any trace of their planning and building methods, almost as if to preserve the secrets of their workshops, limiting to the bare minimum their revelations: only what was absolutely essential to actually carry out the building came out of their chamber des traits (drawing studio), nothing whatsoever concerning the design procedures. There exist few exceptions with some sort of evidence and among them there is the drawing of the rose window of the cathedral of Chartres, transferred by Villard de Honnecourt, not as it was successively built, but during a planning phase, which leads us to presume that he was in some way linked to the architects who were actually working on it.

Click here to read this article from the Second International Congress on Construction History

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